|Ângelo de Sousa
Plastic artist and university teacher
Ângelo César Cardoso de Sousa was born in the city of Maputo - Mozambique (formerly Lourenço Marques) on February 7, 1878, where he started to paint. At the age of 17 he came to Porto to start his Painting Studies in the University (Porto Higher Institute of Fine Arts) – 1955 – and he eventually chose this city to live and work. After finishing his University course he was invited to stay and teach there. In 1963 he became an Assistant Professor.
His first public exhibition took place in 1959 in Galeria Divulgação (Porto) together with Almada Negreiros. This event was the first in a cycle of exhibitions organized by José Pulido Valente, then an Architecture student, whose purpose was to show the work of a young artist side by side with a renowned one.
In the next years his works were exposed in the Portuguese working galleries: Galeria Divulgação in Porto and Lisbon, Galeria 111, Cooperativa Árvore, the Galeria Buchholz, a Galeria Alvarez, Porto, and the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (National Society of Fine Arts).
In 1964 he became one of the enthusiasts and founders of Cooperativa Árvore. At the end of the sixties (1967-68) he lived for a time in London while attending the Slade School of Art and the Saint Martin's School of Fine Art with a scholarship from the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and the British Council. In 1968 he formed the famous Quatro Vintes group that included his friends and colleagues Armando Alves, Jorge Pinheiro and José Rodrigues. The group took its name from the fact that all the artists represented had been awarded the highest grade in their Licenciatura (Licenciate degree). Its main purpose was the presentation of the artists’ works in collective exhibitions.
In 1995 Ângelo de Sousa and Gustavo Barros became the first University Professors of respectively Painting and Sculpture Courses in the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto. Ângelo de Sousa would retire five years later.
Ângelo de Sousa is an avant-garde, experimental and minimalist artist. He has used different techniques and supports during his long and successful career, like drawing, painting (he refuses frames, studies the light and tries different techniques), sculpting, photography, film, video and cenography. The critics see him as a very creative and impulsive artist. And that his work shows a strong coherence although in a permanent mutation.
In painting it is not unusual to associate Ângelo de Sousa to Mondrian, although he declares himself influenced by Expressionism. The artistic discussions have never affected him. He has always chosen to keep far from the neo-realistic debates and from arguments about figuration and abstraction. Instead he shifted to other issues motivated by the interest that he often showed by the oriental print, the primitive and exotic arts and Art Brut, Expressionism, artists like Klee and Kandinsky and movements like the Colour Field, the Post Painterly Abstraction, the Op and the Pop Art.
The “restless movement” of the films is also present in his metal sculptures from the 60’s and the 70’s (the “small machineries”, as the author calls them, first in acrylic and later in aluminium) and the organic quality of the works is uncovered when he uses the body in photography and in the self-portrait, as Leonor Nazaré says.
Among his individual exhibitions there are some outstanding ones like Ângelo – Escultura e Desenho, do Movimento Os Quatro Vintes, in Galeria Alvarez Art Gallery and Cooperativa Árvore, Porto, in 1970, and the major retrospectives, namely in Serralves Museum, in 1993 and 2001, respectively for drawing and painting and photography and cinema, and the one in 2003 on drawing, in the Centro de Arte Moderna of Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
His paintings, sculptures and drawings have been present in shows all over the country and can be admired in the main museums of contemporary art. From 1956 on Ângelo de Sousa has participated in collective exhibitions in Portugal and abroad, in galleries and museums. Among these are the participations in the XIII Bienal de São Paulo, in 1975, where he was awarded, and in the Bienal de Veneza, in 1978.
Ângelo de Sousa is also an original artist in what concerns the choice of materials for the presentation of this work. In some of his catalogues there are texts from authors like Eugénio de Andrade, Fernando Pernes, João Cabral de Mello e Neto, Maria Filomena Molder, João Pinharanda, Rui Mário Gonçalves, Alexandre Melo e Bernardo Pinto de Almeida. His works also include illustrations of several books, namely from Eugénio de Andrade, Maria Alzira Seixo, Mário Cláudio, Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão.
A man of strong convictions, Ângelo de Sousa has been involved in political or civic causes whenever he thinks it necessary (he was the senior advisor in Porto of Jorge Sampaio’s campaign for President in 1995).
Those who work closely with him say he is a cordial, extroverted, irreverent and generous man.
In recent years represented Portugal at the XI International Architecture Exhibition in Venice (2008) with the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, and saw the movie premiere "Ângelo de Sousa – Tudo o que sou capaz" of the director Jorge Silva Melo (2010).
Ângelo de Sousa died victim of cancer at his home in Porto, at the age of 73, on March 29th.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)